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Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause serious health problems if it is not treated. Syphilis has three stages and there are different signs and symptoms associated with each stage. Syphilis is treatable and curable if detected early enough. Once permanent damage is done to the body, it can't be reversed. 

Also know as: Bad Blood, Pox, Zipper Cut

How You Get It:

  • Vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has syphilis
  • Passed to babies through the birth canal
  • Genital touching
  • Spread by skin-to-skin contact if condom or barrier method does not cover the syphilis sore


Stage 1

  • Shows up 1-12 weeks after having sex
  • Perfectly round painless sore or sores dipped into the skin on the mouth or sex organs
  • Sore goes away on its own without treatment after about two weeks, but the person is still infected if left untreated and the infection progresses to stage 2

Stage 2

  • As the sore heals or after, a person can get a rash anywhere on the body, but most frequently on the palms of hands and bottoms of feet
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headache
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle aches
  • If a pregnant person gets syphilis, while pregnant, and does not get treated, the baby will be born with stage 2 syphilis
  • Symptoms may go away on their own without treatment, but the person is still infected and the infection progresses to stage 3

Stage 3 (late stage syphilis)

  • Paralysis
  • Insanity
  • Blindness
  • Damage to knee joints
  • Personality changes
  • Impotency
  • Aneurysm
  • Tumor on skin or internal organs
  • Can still be cured, but damage to the body may be permanent

Prevention: With condom use in most cases, abstaining from sex and sexual contact, abstaining from sex or sexual contact until person who has syphilis is treated and cured 

Testing: Easily detected by a blood test


  • Treatable and curable with antibiotics, regardless of what stage it is diagnosed in
  • Aviod sexual contact until treatment is complete

If left untreated:

  • Will continue to spread it to sex partners
  • Increased risk for other sexually transmitted infections
  • If left untreated until stage 3, the infected person may experience paralysis, insanity, blindness, damange to knee joints, personality changes, impotency, aneurysm, and/or tumor on skin or internal organs

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